The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) is seeking feedback from the food industry (local food manufacturers, ingredient suppliers and importers) and interested experts in academia, on the proposed definition and scope of novel foods. This consultation is the first in a series of public consultations that will be held in relation to the regulatory framework for novel foods and novel food ingredients in Singapore. Subsequent consultations will cover specific safety assessment criteria and processes involved for applications for novel food.
2. AVA is tasked with ensuring the safety of food supplied to the nation. Novel foods and novel food ingredients, which could be defined in simple terms as foods which traditionally have not been consumed by humans as food, may pose food safety risks and their safety needs to be assessed before they can be allowed to be used in food for sale in Singapore.
3. At the same time, novel foods and novel food ingredients may also bring potential benefits to consumers. For example, novel foods could include new sources of nutrients, or could allow the food industry opportunities to create new innovative food products to cater to the needs of consumers.
Current regulatory approach
4. All members of the local food industry are responsible for ensuring that any novel foods and novel food ingredients imported / manufactured and sold in Singapore are safe for consumption. AVA currently works closely with the industry members on a one-to-one basis in verifying the safety of such novel foods and novel food ingredients.
5. Industry members have provided feedback that there is a lack of regulatory clarity in the current regulatory approach, which could impede innovation and trade in the food sector. In addition, the current situation does not facilitate the wider adoption of the novel foods and food ingredients by the food industry, as outcomes of safety assessments may be known to only a specific company. This results in potential delays faced by industry in bringing possible benefits to consumers.
Proposed regulatory framework
6. The proposed regulatory framework covers the definition and scope of novel foods, safety assessment criteria of novel foods and the processes involved for applications for the use of novel food.
7. AVA proposes that definitions for novel foods and novel food ingredients be included in the legislation. In addition, AVA proposes that the safety of novel foods and novel food ingredients must be assessed before they are made available for sale in Singapore. Novel foods and novel food ingredients which have been assessed to be safe would also be listed in legislation, which is openly available to all members of the food industry. Proposed definition and illustrative categories of novel food are described in ANNEX I.
8. This proposed approach is consistent with current practice in Australia and New Zealand, Canada, and the European Union, where new foods or new ingredients used in food are regulated as novel foods, and require safety assessment and approval by the respective food safety authorities before they can be marketed.
Benefits to industry
9. The proposed regulatory framework aims to provide clarity and transparency to the industry on the definition and scope of novel foods, approved novel foods and novel food ingredients in Singapore, as well as assessment criteria for novel foods and novel food ingredients.
10. These benefits will help to support the Food Manufacturing Industry Transformation Map (ITM), which envisages Singapore as a leading food and nutrition hub, with a strengthened ecosystem for food innovation and R&D.
Request for comments
11. This consultation is the first in a series of public consultations that will be held on the proposed regulatory framework for novel food. AVA invites views and comments on the proposed definition and illustrative categories of novel foods. Please submit your comments or feedback in the form of the table provided in Annex II.
12. For this consultation exercise, AVA is not consulting on the specific safety assessment criteria or processes involved for applications for novel food, but plans to do so in the future.
Procedure and timeframe for submitting views and comments
13. All submissions should be clearly and concisely written, and should provide a reasoned explanation for any proposed revisions.
14. Submissions should reach AVA no later than 12:00 p.m., 07 May 2018, through mail, or email, to the following addresses:
52 Jurong Gateway Road #13-01 Singapore 608550
(Attention: Ms Leong Ai Ling, Mr Yeo Kai Liang)
15. We regret that we will not be able to address or acknowledge every feedback or comment received. However, the feedback or comments will be consolidated and a summary of the key comments received will be published, together with AVA’s responses, on the AVA website after the close of the consultation exercise. The summary will not disclose the identity of person(s) or organisation(s) providing the feedback or comments.